Carpathia III: Episode 108: The Dragon Wars


Volcano, Inn

The time Jaze spent laying on the bed, entirely motionless, seemed interminable. He could not hear anything beyond his door aside from some muffled murmuring and his mind raced, wondering what awful things everyone must be saying about him.

Jaze didn't know how long he waited under a cloud of malaise. Eventually, his attention was roused by a strange sound, like a small, excitable dog racing across a hardwood floor coming from outside. The time must have come, and Jaze sat up on the bed. With a loud crash, the door to his room flew open and a red and white streak shot through the air, landing on his bed. It was Ryuu, and he was looking up at Jaze with a look of utter despair on his face. Jaze turned away, unable to bear what he thought was Ryuu's pity.

Ryuu: Jaze, I am so sorry! This is all our fault!

Jaze's ears perked on his head as he wondered if he heard Ryuu correctly. How, he wondered, could anything possibly be Ryuu's fault?

Jaze: W... What?

Ryuu buried his face into Jaze's chest and he could feel his tears seeping through his shirt onto his body.

Ryuu: I have to show you. Can I share a memory with you? It's short, so I will show you in real time.

Taken aback, Jaze had no idea what to say for several moments and just stuttered incomprehensibly. Of all the uncountable number of responses he expected, this was not one of them. Finally, he managed to squeak out a monosyllabic reply.

Jaze: Sure.

Ryuu slowly turned his gaze up to Jaze. Slowly and shakily, Ryuu held out his paw and Jaze waited for him to touch is forehead again. Once more, Jaze felt a warm sensation on his head, but what he experienced after was very different.

Jaze suddenly found himself in an unfamiliar place. It was a hellish landscape. The land before him was barren and black, like a roast that had been forgotten in the oven and left to cook all day long. Tall, craggy mountains rose up in the distance and were equally as charred as the surface in front of him. Fires blazed everywhere, hugging close to deep fissures in the crust. Deep within the fissures ran hot lava, which sent torrents of steam and smoke which poured over everything around him. The sky was a similar mixture of grey smoke and soot, punctuated by glowing patches of orange and green. The soot rained down all around like black snow and it appeared as though the entire planet was soon to splinter into tiny, blackened chunks.

The air was unbearably hot and reeked of brimstone and, even though he had only been there a few seconds, Jaze was already sweating profusely. Suddenly, the ground shook and a blast of air came from high behind him, ruffling the fuzz on his ears. His ears fluttering, Jaze turned his head skyward, just as a massive, blood-red dragon stomped by, its mammoth feet missing him by mere inches and cracking the ground, sending up clouds of soot, with each step. Jaze was starting to understand what was happening around him, even though it was a scene he'd never seen before. This was a war. More importantly, he also somehow knew, inexplicably, the identity of the red dragon.

This is Ryuu's great great grandmother.

In awe, Jaze watched as the dragon lumbered past, her mighty tail swinging back and forth as she went and shaking the ground with each monstrous stomp. Just then, a huge, bat-like creature landed in front of the red dragon, who immediately recoiled in surprise. The dragon opened her mouth and the glow told Jaze that she was about to let forth a heavy stream of fire. Before she could do that, the bat creature opened its own mouth and, for a moment, Jaze thought both intended to blast fire at each other. No sooner than Jaze had that thought than something entirely unexpected happened.

Silence.

The cacaphony of the battle, the churning of the lava, the sounds of the planet's crust splitting all gave way to a pure, uncanny, oppressing silence. The bat creature's mouth was still open, as though it were shrieking at them, though Jaze heard absolutely nothing. The red dragon staggered backward, shaking her head and even Jaze thought it wouldn't be long before he went insane himself.

It became more and more difficult to focus on the world around him and Jaze did his best to retain his rapidly dwindling faculties. Glancing at the bat, he noticed its ears suddenly twitch on top of its head. Mercifully, the bat finally shut its mouth and whipped his head to its right. What it saw, Jaze did not know, but the creaking sounds of the world suddenly returned and the bat creature flapped his massive wings and flew swiftly away like a gunshot. Jaze looked back to the dragon who shook her head and struggled to regain her composure, still disoriented.

Jaze took this brief opportunity to take in his surroundings a little more. He now realized there were many dragons around, all fighting some sort of enemy. The nearest one was a blue dragon locked in an intense struggle with what appeared to be some sort of elf woman. In both fear and wonderment, Jaze watched as the blue dragon attempted to swat and bite the elf woman, but she gracefully ducked and weaved around the dragon's every move. The elf, Jaze suddenly realized, was completely naked and, aside from her hideous, sharp-toothed face, could be a paragon of beauty as her skin, as black and shiny as a grand piano, glistened by the light of the lava pits.

Though Jaze wanted to to know how the fight between the elf and the blue dragon would end, he felt somehow compelled to turn his attention back to the red dragon. Gazing skyward again, he caught sight of the red dragon's head at almost the exact moment that a large rock blindsided her in the face. Jaze gasped as he looked past the dragon from whence the rock came. It was Wishmaster. However, it was not the Wishmaster he knew. This version was entirely nekomi, without the armored exoskeleton that normally covered half the body of the one he knew in real life.

Wishmaster continued hurling stones at the red dragon, much the same way that Adell threw stones at Jaze during their battle. Each one disintigrated before it reached her, however, as she shot fireballs at the stones as they came, turning them into shards. The last one, however found its mark and struck the dragon in the face. Jaze watched in horror as Wishmaster leaped into the air and shot a fire blast at the dragon, further disorienting her. With the dragon stunned, Wishmaster drew his claws and swiped at her face, leaving three deep gashes just over her eye. This, however, left him open to attack and the dragon swatted at Wishmaster, sending him tumbling away.

While Wishmaster was recovering, the red dragon readied a strong fire blast, the glow of fire building quickly in her mouth. As soon as he was on his feet, Wishmaster looked up just as a hot stream of fire engulfed him at his side. When the fire dissipated, there was nothing. No Wishmaster. No body. Nothing. Jaze could feel what the dragon was thinking.

He is surely burned to ashes.

Just then, Jaze heard an ear-splitting roar from his left. Both he and the dragon turned to see a yellow dragon battling with what appeared to be an oversize tokki. The yellow dragon continuously fired lightning bolts at it, but the tokki was breathtakingly quick, leaping, dodging, and ducking each bolt of lightning, its claws and teeth moving so fast that it looked more like an industrial saw than a living being. The tokki was a vicious, savage looking creature, with massive claws and huge, knife-like teeth. Though only a few seconds of observing the battle had passed, it seemed like Jaze had already witnessed an entire war.

Suddenly, the tokki made a lunge for the yellow dragon's neck. With its arms wrapped around the dragon, the tokki twisted its neck and the yellow dragon immediately fell over, dead. After a victory screech, the tokki fell to its knees and sank its long, sharp teeth into the dragon and began feasting on its flesh.

Jaze felt a sudden swell of anger, though he knew there was nothing he could do. Looking up at the red dragon, he saw that she was already readying another scorching blast of fire. The flames erupted from her mouth like an explosion. The tokki dodged, but it was too late and the flame struck a glancing blow. The tokki tumbled backward, screaming in pain as the flames began to consume its body. There was a gust of wind as the dragon flapped its massive wings and took flight. Mysteriously compelled to follow, Jaze ran alongside the soaring dragon and watched as her massive foot came crashing down on the tokki's head, spraying the surrounding area with a geyser of blood.

And then, everything faded to black. Jaze opened his eyes and found that he was in his room again, with Ryuu gazing up at him with glassy eyes.

Ryuu: Wishmaster the Tormenter. Aionaptara the Deranger. Lazmeadia the Devourer. Nibelakul the Flesh Eater. Lucifer the Soul Stealer... All of them were there, and more. The demigods were the first, as far as we know, like the blind angel that you met, but some of them turned evil. We dragons came second.

Though desperate to ask questions, Jaze was also entirely engrossed in what Ryuu had to say and continued listening patiently.

Ryuu: After a contentious dragon council, we decided to rid the cosmos of the devils to stop them from dragging the new civilizations, humans, tokki, nekomi, elves, and all the others, into ruin. The war lasted three long centuries. What you saw was the final battle, which occurred six thousand years ago on a planet that was destroyed in the chaos.

If anyone but Ryuu were telling him this, Jaze wouldn't have believed it. Every word from his mouth sounded like something from a fantasy novel. Ryuu buried his face in Jaze's chest again and tried to wrap his arms around his waist.

Ryuu: I'm so sorry! We thought we had killed all of them, but, somehow, Wishmaster survived!

Jaze put his hand on Ryuu's back and slowly stroked his fur. He wasn't sure if he felt any better about his situation or not.

Kaoru: Jaze...

If Ryuu hadn't been sitting on Jaze's lap, holding him down, he would have jumped clear off the bed at that moment. Focused as he was on Ryuu, he did not notice that everyone had crowded into his room and were now staring at him expectantly. Kaoru looked like he was going to speak again, but was interrupted when Kagurain leaped onto the bed and threw his arms around Jaze.

Kagurain: Jaze! I can't believe you went up against Wishmaster and lived! And you met my brother! You were so good to him! I wish I could have seen him, but... but... I'm...

Kagurain could barely get his next words out before he was consumed by his sobs.

Kagurain: I'm glad... I'm glad you're alive!

Kagurain could no longer speak and could only disintigrate into a blubbery mess.

Adell: We're all glad, Jaze. I don't think I could have made it through.

Jaze: So... you don't want me to leave?

Artemis: Hell no! I'm not ashamed to admit that I wouldn't have lasted a week!

Jaze scanned the room, watching as everyone nodded in agreement. Jaze closed his eyes and smiled. He still didn't feel whole, and perhaps he never would feel whole again, but maybe this was the start of something entirely new.


Commissioned art in this episode from:
Miyumon
Atomic Clover
Thatwildmary
Ensoul

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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